The Souper Bowl of Caring has been held on Super Bowl Sunday since 1990, raising more than $41 million, including more than $8 million in 2007, organizers said. More than 15,000 congregations, schools, civic clubs and businesses in all 50 states are registered to participate.
The effort was inspired by a prayer delivered on Super Bowl Sunday in 1988 by Brad Smith, a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C.
"Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat," Smith said.
Smith's prayer gave birth to the idea of asking parishioners to each give $1 for the needy as they leave church on Super Bowl Sunday, with young people receiving the donations and sending each dollar directly to the charity of their choice.
The members of the church's high school youth group then invited other Columbia-area churches to participate. The effort expanded statewide in 1991 and nationwide in 1993.
Smith is now the executive director of the Souper Bowl of Caring.
The Souper Bowl of Caring's National Advocates include former Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Jimmy Carter and their wives and the owners of the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins football teams.
More information on the Souper Bowl of Caring, including an interactive map of participating churches, is available on its Web site, www.souperbowl.org, or by calling (800) 358-SOUP.